Wednesday, October 21, 2020
On October 24, the provincial election will be held in British Columbia. From the standpoint of tackling the climate crisis, there has not been significant progress in British Columbia over the last three and a half years. All climate indicators clearly tell us that we are at the same place where we were before the last provincial election in 2017. The best that the minority government of Premier John Horgan — a coalition government of NDP and Green Party — could do has been to zigzag on all major environmental emergencies. This has meant big delays in making decisions on key environmental issues that would improve the urgent climate crisis facing British Columbia.
Mostly important in British Columbia this means the cancellation of the Site C Dam and the Coastal GasLink (CGL) and Trans Mountain Expansion (TMX) pipelines. Since July 2017, the rights of Indigenous people in defence of their land against corporations and the provincial and federal governments have been repeatedly denied. While at the same time, Indigenous people defending their territories have been harassed and criminalized.
This past week nine people, including a Secwepemc hereditary chief and his daughter, were arrested in Kamloops, BC, protesting TMX pipeline construction. Premier John Horgan publicly criticized them by saying, “…disrupting other people’s activity only alienates, quite frankly, and creates discord in the community.” With these words, the Premier has shown a complete disregard for Indigenous rights. If the government were paying attention to the issues and demands of Indigenous communities, people would not have to put their bodies on the line to stop a pipeline. The Premier’s statement was morally and politically wrong.
In the 2017 election, the BC NDP had campaigned on “using every tool in the toolbox” to oppose the TMX project. Since forming a coalition government with the Green Party, all they have done is to mount one legal challenge — that is hardly the extent of what they could be doing. In fact, the Alberta government devotes many more resources in supporting the disastrous project than the BC government has ever used to fight it.
Already, by December 2017, the approval of the Site C Dam was a clear signal that the new government was going to continue the legacy of the Liberals — and put the interests of big business before Indigenous rights and the environment. How do you authorize the BC Utilities Commission to investigate the project, only to approve it even after the Commission reported that, “It is not fiscally prudent to move forward”? And, especially after acknowledging it would flood 5000 hectares of prime farmland, as well as the undeniable opposition of local Indigenous nations?
To be able to move ahead with the approval, the NDP government relied on a coalition with BC Green representatives, and the BC Greens did not stop it. This drew the ire of renowned environmentalist David Suzuki, “Two weeks before the decision was coming, [then BC Green Party Leader] Andrew Weaver said they wouldn’t bring the government down over Site C,” Suzuki said. He continued, “He wouldn’t even play politics! There’s no way the NDP would’ve wanted another election that soon. He could have taken the government right down and stopped that dam.”
Adding insult to injury, the BC government also approved the Coastal GasLink pipeline, and has given huge support to fracked “natural” gas projects. If completed, the CGL pipeline would run through the unceded territory of numerous Indigenous nations, including the Wet’suwet’en — whose hereditary chiefs have made it clear they oppose the project. The approval of the CGL pipeline ignited massive protests across BC and Canada, beginning in late 2019, as Indigenous and non-Indigenous people alike joined forces to oppose yet another government betrayal.
Without showing any signs of slowing down with these climate-destroying mega-projects, it is no wonder that in 3.5 years, the BC government couldn’t table a plan to meet its “Clean BC” promise to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030.
At the same time, the BC Liberals have continued to ridiculously criticize the NDP for not meeting its emissions targets, while at the same time championing the slogan, “Our Natural Resources, like LNG, are part of the solution — not the problem,” during this election campaign!
We believe that whoever wins, the next BC government will refuse to fight for the future of humanity and earth. As we have done before, we will continue organizing, mobilizing, and educating — using every tool in our toolbox to build a mass majority movement to defend mother earth and the future of humankind. We will win.
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